There are a myriad of articles about the joys of travelling alone — see self-discovery, personal growth and all that “Eat, Pray, Love” clichés. This fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, isn’t one of them.
As much as solo trips are religious experiences that we highly encourage everyone to embark on, travelling solo is much more than meditating in solitude at some temple ruins in Asia.
Here is a list of 6 concrete tips for your solo travels (here are some great solo destinations to check out as well!)
1) Pack your own supplies
When you’re alone in a foreign country, no one is looking out for you other than yourself. Basic supplies, like sunblock and insect repellents, are travel essentials that you may have complacently relied on your parents and other travel companions for on your previous travels. Basic necessities like dry and wet tissues are a lifesaver in a variety of situations, from accidental food spillage to unfortunate toilet situations.
Another great insurance is a pack of medication for the common ailments. When you’re alone and lying in bed sick to your bones, having medication on hand and not having to search for a pharmacy clad in sickly pyjamas, could well mean the difference between a good night’s rest and a not-so-memorable holiday.
2) Semi-aimless walking
As much as there is a temptation to walk around aimlessly given that you don’t have any other travel companions, in a foreign land however, you might want to try semi-aimless walking.
What sets the latter apart from the former is the added element of having an end destination in mind. Think a public transport stop, popular night market, or shopping mall so that you will have a point of interest to explore at the end of your walk and a fool-proof way of getting back to your accommodation.
3) Plan, plan and plan
Plan as much as you can before you set off on your trip or even your day’s journey. Have a list of as many things to do within a day so that you always have plenty of options of where to head to next.
If you enjoy staying at one place to really soak in the atmosphere, then take that into consideration when you’re adding things to your daily itinerary. Have an extra two or three activities each day lest what you’ve planned prior is not up to your initial expectations. You shouldn’t have to think of what to occupy your idle time with, especially when you’re already out and about on the streets.
4) But go where your heart takes you
Planning is great but if you see something that draws your attention while you’re making your way around, it doesn’t do much harm to take an impromptu detour. Since you’re travelling alone, you can easily shuffle things around on your itinerary to make time for your new found jewel.
One of the best things about travelling alone is that your itinerary can be tailored specifically to your liking. You can easily shift things to another day, stay out later, push everything back by an hour or so, or even remove an activity from your itinerary entirely.
5) Just go back the next day
There seems to be an unspoken rule that you have to explore as much of an area as possible when you travel, but if you really enjoyed a certain activity or area, there’s no reason why you can’t schedule another visit to the area during your trip. There’s something about exploring one specific area over and over again that makes it all the more special.
This tip applies especially to your solo dining experiences. One of the main cons of travelling alone is the inability to sample all that the cuisine of your travel destination has to offer. While it’s easy to share a bunch of main dishes and sides to try the various dishes of the cuisine, you simply cannot do that alone without either wasting food or giving yourself a serious bout of indigestion. If the restaurant has ravenous reviews, why not limit yourself to a dish or two, and pay a visit another day for another meal.
(Article continues below) Do you know that during the Hungry Ghost Month, you shouldn’t lean on the wall or talk to yourself? Here’s a video on the list of taboos you probably didn’t know about: if you don’t want any unwanted visitors today, you’d better watch it!
(Since you’re here, subscribe to our YouTube Channel for more informative videos lah)
6) Selfie sticks are your friends
As the owner of a rather large head and short arms, I can safely say that selfie sticks are your best friends when travelling alone. Once you get over the stigma and “shame” of wielding a selfie stick, its benefits for the solo traveller are undeniable. A selfie stick changes a photo from having your face covering most of the sights behind you, to having your face covering only some of the sights behind you. Also, gone are the days where you have to ambush passers-by to help you take a photo, with slightly tight smiles as you wonder if they’ll inevitably abscond with your expensive camera or smartphones.
If a selfie stick isn’t your kind of thing, using a self timer is also a great way to capture your solo travels. But snap away at your own risk as it is probably not a wise idea to leave your camera balanced precariously some distance away from you.
7) Attitude matters
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, be ready to have fun! It may be intimidating and slightly awkward to travel alone, but seek comfort in the fact that nobody truly cares whether you’re going solo. In fact, travelling alone is an empowering experience and you are more likely to encounter people who are impressed by your bravery and sense of adventure. So just go out and conquer the world, all by yourself.
The world is your oyster and you love eating fresh seafood alone.
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